children momday summer

On Kids and the Woods {Monday is Mom-day}

Last week I returned from a week in the woods with my sister and our kids.  My grandparents have a cabin that was built when I was 1.  Recently they added on a new wing which includes a sleeping loft and a new master bedroom as well as an extra 1 1/2 bathrooms.  With the new space, I thought it would be fun to take my kids up for a week and enjoy being up in the mountains.  I invited my sisters and sisters-in-law but only my older sister took me up on it.  We planned menus and shopped and got ready.  Unfortunately I got sick right before we left so I didn’t get as much stuff done as I would have liked, but ready or not it was time to go.
Now, you’ll remember that this cabin has been around my whole life.  We spent many weekends during the summers up here, with our parents, cousins and grandparents.  It is a large part of my memories as a child.  I guess we assumed that those memories would be passed onto our kids through osmosis or something.  That they would immediately know how to do the things we did as children to spend our time and enjoy the trip up there.  We were sorely mistaken. 😉
One child, after two days of hikes and trips to the creek said, “I don’t WANT ANY MORE ADVENTURES!!!!”
Another child, when tired of dodging bees and bugs said, “I hate the outdoors!  I don’t know why we have to be outside, anything I want to do I can do INSIDE!”
Granted, we made a few mistakes.  We allowed the kids to bring up an XBOX and DSs.  Which means we were constantly negotiating and debating when they could play and for how long.  We didn’t set those boundaries at the beginning which would also have helped.  And we went for a few too many days- we should have quit at 5 days (at the VERY longest).

We did have a great time.  The kids eventually learned how to play outside for longer periods of time and everyone pretty much got along. (a miracle with 8 kids up there)  But I learned some things.  We (by we I mean I) are handicapping our kids by holding them so close.  Today’s media has us so freaked out about safety that we are afraid to let our kids just be kids.  My mom told me she read an article that said the statistics about children’s safety show that even today, there is such a small risk of something happening to our kids, but the media makes such a big deal out of every time things happen, we think they are more common than they are.
So, I’ve been doing some thinking.  I don’t want my kids to be video game experts.  I want them to be well-rounded, active people who enjoy many different things, especially the beauty of the world around them.  But, I’m not sure how to go about it.  This probably isn’t the best year to instill in them a love of hiking. (baby #5 is due in about 5 weeks)  But there has to be something I can do to encourage them to explore the world around them.  So, I’m asking for your help.  What do you do to facilitate your children stretching their abilities, to keep them active and entertained without resorting to a glowing box in front of them all the time?  How do you help them learn to entertain themselves independently?  I mean, I don’t mind doing things with them, but I also have orders to fill, things to do and I really don’t want to be the entertainment committee. 
I am starting with limiting game and t.v. time, but honestly, when they ask me what they can do- I’m not sure how to answer.  A box of craft supplies sounds like a great idea, but how do you contain the mess, and make sure you’re not left with a disaster that takes you longer to clean than it did for them to make?  I am not super mom.  I have no intention of being one either.  I want my kids to learn how to make their own fun and then clean it up afterwards.  I hope that’s not asking too much, but honestly I’m not really sure how to start.  I’d love to know what you’re doing, what you have done, what worked, what didn’t, what your mom/sister/grandmother did.  Anything.  Ready? GO!
XOXO and Thank You in advance!! 🙂

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  • Kristie
    June 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    We read a lot of books growing up. We, my 7 siblings and I, didn't watch a bunch of movies. Cartoons (except disney and pbs) were strictly off limits. To this day I have a hard time watching cartoons or sitting through movies. My mom did instill in us olders a love of creating. She taught me to sew when I was 5. And helped me through high school with sewing. We also did a lot of cooking. But some of my favorite memories are the board games we would play. We would make some popcorn, and drinks and play games. She also got us outside in the garden with her. Not my favorite thing, but when you get 5 or 6 people out to weed, it goes fast.
    Good luck. I have a love/hate relationship with the TV. It is hard to limit it. Especially when my hubby grew up totally different than I did, watching movies a lot.

  • Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy
    June 20, 2012 at 1:22 am

    my token system has saved my life in that way, we started it about 2 1/2 years ago and we took a break the last few months of my pregnancy and the first few months of Baby Boy's life, but we're back on track even the kids missed it!

    I pay tokens for things I encourage and or something we're working on (playing outside, cleaning, clearing the table, artwork, building something with blocks/legos, reading, baths, potty (during potty training), green day at school, mowing the lawn, dishes, laundry, etc… I've very liberal and give out tons of tokens, talking nicely, sharing, etc… THEN I charge, heavily, for wii, movies, netflix, name calling, fighting, and they can use tokens (1 token for 10 cents) to buy things. they also save up together for bigger stuff (they bought the wii themselves). Also there is a 1 hour per kid limit to screen time, tv, computer or wii (it overlaps a bit, watching someone else play, so they still get more like 2 hours of screen time, but not much I can do about that!)
    We do tokens at the end of dinner every day (although they pay me BEFORE playing/watching anything). I let the kids help me make the list of things they get paid and pay for as well as the amounts (1-3 tokens for pretty much everything, but I charge 10-20 for things)

  • Gwen @ Gwenny Penny
    June 20, 2012 at 1:50 am

    That's tough, Amy. I don't know if I can be of much help… My kids would spend all day outside if I let them and choose outside time over TV time after dinner most nights in the summer. I think Ashlee's token system sounds like a great idea. As far as the crafts/clean-up, maybe a condition of getting screen time is that the supplies/mess must be cleaned up completely first. And I think that really sticking to your summer bingo (or altering it to include less video game/TV time) could help, too.

  • Michele Pacey
    June 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Wow that's a toughie. I'm interested in what other commenters are saying here too.

    Personally, we had so much freedom as kids. We lived out in the country and spent most of our time outdoors in the woods around our house. Our tv time was really limited and we had only each other (I come from a family of 11 kids). Were we happy? I guess. Are we all well-adjusted and good people who give back to society? I don't know. It's debatable.

    My parents did the best they could on one income with a large family. And that's all any of us can do, I think. Both my parents are still sane and happy mostly. As for the rest of us, it remains to be seen…